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The Morning Glory of the Gulf of Carpentaria: An Atmospheric Undular Bore

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia, 3052
  • | 2 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia, 3168
  • | 3 CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Physics, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia. 3195
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Abstract

This paper presents the results of a field expedition mounted in late September/early October 1979 to investigate the structure and origin of the “morning glory” of the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia. The morning glory is a line wind squall, accompanied by a pressure jump, and often by a long roll-cloud or series of such clouds. It frequently occurs in the early morning, especially in October, in the Gulf area.

A light aircraft, fitted with a temperature and humidity probe, was flown in two glories to determine their thermodynamic structure, and wind fields wore obtained principally by tracking pilot balloons using the double theodolite method. Data also were obtained from a network of surface stations, recording wind velocity and pressure, installed at locations across Cape York Peninsula, which is believed to be the area of genesis.

The morning glory is identified as an internal undular bore propagating on the nocturnal and/or maritime inversion. Its origin appears to lie frequently in the interaction of a deeply penetrating sea breeze front with a developing nocturnal inversion, but there is evidence also that on occasion it may result from the effect of a katabatic flow. The factors which appear to make the Gulf region particularly favorable for the common occurrence of this phenomenon are discussed.

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a field expedition mounted in late September/early October 1979 to investigate the structure and origin of the “morning glory” of the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia. The morning glory is a line wind squall, accompanied by a pressure jump, and often by a long roll-cloud or series of such clouds. It frequently occurs in the early morning, especially in October, in the Gulf area.

A light aircraft, fitted with a temperature and humidity probe, was flown in two glories to determine their thermodynamic structure, and wind fields wore obtained principally by tracking pilot balloons using the double theodolite method. Data also were obtained from a network of surface stations, recording wind velocity and pressure, installed at locations across Cape York Peninsula, which is believed to be the area of genesis.

The morning glory is identified as an internal undular bore propagating on the nocturnal and/or maritime inversion. Its origin appears to lie frequently in the interaction of a deeply penetrating sea breeze front with a developing nocturnal inversion, but there is evidence also that on occasion it may result from the effect of a katabatic flow. The factors which appear to make the Gulf region particularly favorable for the common occurrence of this phenomenon are discussed.

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